Dave Runyon on Neighboring
Dave Runyon presents the story behind his journey to shifting his career from a pastor to a neighboring and city transformation expert.
Dave Runyon’s neighboring journey began when he sat in a room full of pastors in Colorado and asked the mayor of his city what he and colleagues could do to change the city.
He listed programs and dreams he had for the city, but one comment stuck with Runyon: “If you guys want to have the biggest impact, you’d figure out how to start a neighboring movement with all of the people who show up at your churches.” Runyon realized the mayor was essentially saying, “The smartest thing you can do is the very thing God commanded—Love your neighbors .”
This experience catalyzed a radical shift in Runyon’s life. He realized Christians were not any better neighbors than non-Christians and wondered how this could be possible. After some contemplation, he realized many Christians “love their neighbor” by defining the word “neighbor” so it most easily fits into what they’re already doing.
Runyon says the easiest solution to this problem is to commit to learning the names of the people who live in closest proximity to us. Though this lends itself to mildly awkward conversations, he says knowing our neighbors names is the gateway to meaningful relationships.
He says the best way church leaders can train their congregants to be good neighbors is to actually practice neighboring themselves. Their example is key for meaningful change. Runyon also says telling stories about neighboring successes provides inspiration and helps congregants catch a vision for the movement.
Overall, Runyon suggests that church leaders pray about how they can come together around a neighboring movement.